Newport Beach
Newport Beach
Los Angeles
Las Vegas
San Diego
Oakland
Phoenix
Reno
Riverside
Denver
North San Diego
(949)221-1000 (949)221-1001 20320 S.W. Birch Street Second Floor, Newport Beach CA 92660
(818)712-9800 (818)712-9900 21215 Burbank Blvd. Suite 500, Woodland Hills CA 91367
(702)258-6665 (702)258-6662 1160 N Town Center Dr Suite 250, Las Vegas NV 89144
(619)236-0048 (619)236-0047 501 West Broadway Suite 1700, San Diego CA 92101
(510)540-4881 (510)540-4889 300 Frank H Ogawa Plaza Suite 355, Oakland CA 94612
(602)274-1204 (602)274-1205 8950 South 52nd St Suite 201, Tempe AZ 85284
(775)440-2389 (775) 440-2390 50 West Liberty Suite 1030, Reno NV 89501
(951)276-9020 (951)276-9022 5225 Canyon Crest Dr. Suite 71-363, Riverside CA 92507
(720) 779-2500 (303)256-6205 1675 Broadway, Suite 1850, Denver CO 80202
(760)557-2940 (619)389-2993 760 Garden View Ct. Unit #100 Encinitas, CA 92024

Navigating Abandonment of a Construction Project

No construction or real estate developments goes completely as planned. Despite the expectation that modifications will likely be necessary to finalize a project, far too many parties suffer losses related to these projects. 

In California, abandonment of a project without legal excuse gives rise to a legal claim. An abandonment occurs if there was a material failure to complete any construction project or operation for the price stated in the contract or in any modification of the contact. If abandonment occurs, litigation likely follows. 

Disputes most commonly arise when the parties fail to retain a paper trail. Therefore, to limit litigation, document everything. Change orders can offer protection, but they must be in writing. Handshakes or oral promises are not sufficient. Rather, obtain written agreements signed by the contractor, and retain all documentation provided by the contractor, including invoices, receipts, work estimates and change orders. 

If the construction project has been abandoned, take photographs and/or videos of the job as it appears. To mitigate damages, preserve any leftover materials that a new contractor may be able to use. 

After gathering all necessary documents, it is best to send the contractor a registered letter requesting a settlement and reasonable reimbursement based on the value of the outstanding work. In that settlement demand, it is best to include copies of documents to substantiate claims. To increase the chance of receiving a timely response, set a firm deadline and clarify that litigation will commence if no timely response is received. 

If the contractor does not respond to a settlement demand, there are several options: (1) Report the contractor and their businesses or locations to their licensing board to ensure that the regulatory body for the construction profession gets involved; and/or (2) If the contractor has not returned money owed and/or business was in relation to the abandonment, litigation to recover damages can commence.  

If you have an issue with potential abandonment of a construction project, whether you’re the contractor or the landowner, contact Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara, LLP to assist.